Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Cautionary Tale From The UK


# 3517



A reoccurring theme in this blog has been the importance of convincing people to get the things they will need to treat influenza in the home - now . . . before they need them - and before the flu season picks up in the fall.


Over the next 6 to 9 months hundreds of millions (perhaps billions) of people around the world are expected to fall ill due to the Swine Flu virus.  


Most will probably only suffer mild to moderate illness, but many will still need some medical attention.


There’s a pretty good chance that you, or someone in your household, will be sickened.  And most people are going to have to be treated in their homes. 


If you don’t have supplies now to deal with flu, you may find them difficult to obtain when you need them.  Millions of people will be trying to acquire exactly the same sort of supplies that you will be seeking. 


Shortages are more than a little likely.


And most importantly, by purchasing what you need now, you are helping to reduce the demand on the supply chain in the fall.    


Do you have a good oral thermometer?   What about fever-reducers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen?   Do you have alcohol hand sanitizer?  Pedialyte or other oral rehydration solutions?


What about other sick room supplies?


Do you already have surgical facemasks? 


The CDC recommends you have them for those who are sick to wear, particularly if you have to take them outside of the home (like to a doctor, or a hospital), and to help protect other members of the household they may be around.


If you are in a high risk group, and may be called upon to care for someone with the flu, the CDC suggests that you consider using N-95 respirators to help protect yourself from the virus.


These are likely to be in very short supply this fall and winter, and difficult to get.



Even though it is summer in England, and not yet `flu-season’,  we are already hearing of some spot shortages of basic sickroom supplies.  


A hat tip to Crof at Crofsblog for posting this story.



Sold out: swine flu makes thermometers hot property

Digital oral thermometer


The operator on the swine flu hotline needs to know if I have a fever. No fever, no swine flu. So I venture out to buy a thermometer. The pharmacy at the corner has run out. I drag myself to the next chemist on the high street, but the shelf is empty: the last digital one sold yesterday. Nearby is a Superdrug. Sweating and coughing, I run through the store looking for thermometers. None.


I call Superdrug. They say sales of thermometers have doubled each week for the last three weeks. Lloyds pharmacy has sold 700% more thermometers than for the same period last year.


Even thermometer suppliers are getting nervous. Andrew Brannan, of Brannan thermometers, says it was the same with Sars. "We couldn't keep up." So how did it end? Did we all find a long-lost one in the bathroom? "No," he says. "The story disappeared and the demand stopped."


I finally found a chemist that had some stock. I don't have swine flu, but I will keep this new thermometer tucked away for the next crisis.



The takeaway message is, it is better to prepare now, than to sweat trying to find important supplies when you, or a loved one, is already ill.  


There are a number of excellent resources available that you should examine now, that offer suggestions as to what you might need.


The CDC has guidance available to help you take care of a flu victim at home, including some suggestions on some of the supplies you may need: 


Interim Guidance for H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu): Taking Care of a Sick Person in Your Home


The Canadian government has a similar document entitled:

Influenza Self-Care: It's In Your Hands



And of course, one of the best guides is  Dr. Grattan Woodson’s free guide on the treatment of Influenza, available from his website.

Home Treatment of Influenza booklet


A relatively new manual is this 81-page PDF file which cover a lot more than just caring for the sick. 


It also has sections on establishing `communities of care’, laying in emergency supplies, general preparedness websites, even emergency cooking. 


While a free download, the authors are set up to accept donations.  If possible, you should consider supporting their work.



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